Police, firefighters help during wait for ambulance

Dunedin police officers and firefighters had to assist a woman who collapsed in Cumberland St yesterday morning because all St John ambulance crews were busy at the time.

The 44-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest outside CRT about 8.30am, and emergency services were called.

Acting Senior Sergeant Damion Rangitutia said police officers were first on the scene and administered CPR. A crew from the central Dunedin fire station then arrived, followed by a St John ambulance crew, and the woman was taken to Dunedin Hospital.

St John South Island communications and promotions co-ordinator Alena Lynch said St John received the 111 call at 8.31am.

''All our ambulances were busy at the time so we dispatched police and fire. The first ambulance to become available was at 8.38am and it arrived at the scene at 8.41am,'' she said.

Paramedics treated the patient and transported her to hospital.

''Despite an ambulance being unavailable immediately following the 111 call, it was a good joint effort between emergency services,'' Ms Lynch said.

Four ambulances were based in Dunedin at three stations.

Each was at separate medical incidents and could not immediately be dispatched to Cumberland St when the 111 call was made.

''When there is a critical call like in this case, the emergency centre in Christchurch sends out a message to all ambulances in Dunedin asking if anyone can respond. If someone's in an ambulance and able to respond, they will, but if they are not in an ambulance and are treating another patient, then police and fire [personnel] are immediately dispatched to respond,'' Ms Lynch said.

It was unusual for all four Dunedin ambulances to be in use and unable to respond to further emergencies at exactly the same time, she said.

''It was just one of those unfortunate timing things. It's very unusual to have all the ambulances tied up and then have a cardiac arrest happen,'' she said.

Senior Sergeant Steve Aitken said last night the woman remained in an induced coma in Dunedin Hospital's intensive care unit.

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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